J. H. SCOTT. Occupying a position of prominence among the names of the enterprising and progressive men that have contributed largely toward the advancement of Eldorado's growth and prosperity is that of J. H. Scott, who has rendered splendid service as a public official, and as a man and a citizen is above reproach. A son of John L. Scott, he was born May 18, 1840, in Bedford county, Tennessee, but was brought up in Illinois. His paternal grandfather, John Scott, was born in South Carolina, and as a young man settled in Tennessee. He served as a soldier in the war of 1812. and under command of General Jackson took part in the battle of New Orleans. He spent his last years, however, in Southern Illinois, passing away at a good old age in Saline county.
John L. Scott was born and reared in Tennessee, and there married Nancy Langley. In 1841 he came with his family to Illinois, settling near Springfield. There his wife died, and he subsequently removed with his children to that part of Gallatin county, Illinois, that is now included within the boundaries of Saline county, settling two miles north of the present village of Eldorado, and eight miles north of Equality, going there When the country was but sparsely settled, the
neighbors being few and far between. Making another removal a short time later, he located in Kentucky, where he worked at his trade of a millwright, and engaged in milling, remaining there until his death, in 1853. Of the three children that had been born to him and his first wife, but two were then living, namely: J. R., the subject of this sketch; and Julia Ann, two years younger, who is now the wife of G. E. Aaron, of Eldorado, Illinois. Besides these two children, he left a widow, his second wife, and their two children. After the death of his father, J. H. Scott came with his sister, his step-mother and his half-sister to Saline county, Illinois, where he had a few acquaintances, and where he supposed an uncle was living. Finding on his arrival, however, that the uncle had previously died, he first lived for a time with a family named Reed, and while there became acquainted with John Choisser, whose daughter became the wife of Captain William H. Parrish, of whom a brief personal sketch is given elsewhere in this volume. Mr. Scott and his sister Julia were both subsequently bound out to Mr. Choisser until they should become of age, Mr. Scott remaining in the family until long after the death of Mr. Choisser, having a good home. He attended school but little, but he acquired a practical knowledge of books and events, Mr. Choisser, who was a man of great intelligence, encouraging him to study at home by the fireside.
Marrying when young, Mr. Scott rented land and engaged in farming until 1862, when he enlisted in Company E, One Hundred and Tenth illinois Volunteer Infantry, a Saline county company commanded by Captain George E. Burnett. With his regiment he took part in the engagement at Nashville, and at the battle of Murfreesborough, on New Year's day, 1863, he was struck by a piece of shell, losing the sight of his left eye. Nothing daunted, however, Mr. Scott continued with his command, serving under Generals Buell and Rosecrans, and later marching with Sherman to Atlanta, thence to the sea and up through the Carolinas to Washington, where he took part in the Grand Review. Mr. Scott was promoted from the ranks to the position of corporal, and in that capacity was often detailed to special duty, carrying reports from headquarters to various commanders.
Soon after receiving his discharge from the army Mr. Scott began work, for a time being employed in a drug store. Subsequently he rented a farm, and in addition to raising good crops worked in the store of John W. Cox. Having accumulated some money, he then bought, on time, the house which he now occupies, and paid eight hundred and fifty-seven dollars for eighty acres of land lying just west of Eldorado. He afterward traded that property for one hundred and sixty acres of land, and has since exchanged several pieces of land, his residential property, which he secured several years ago, containing four acres of choice land, on which he has erected seven tenement houses, the rentals of which bring him in a good annual income.
For about fifteen years Mr. Scott conducted a general store in the village of Eldorado, carrying on a substantial business. Ever on the alert for opportunities to add to his prosperity, Mr. Scott, with four other men of enterprise, organized a company to bore for oil, and has the distinction of having started the first oil well in this part of Saline county. For ten years, from 1896 until 1906, Mr. Scott sold buggies and light vehicles throughout the western and extreme southeastern states, traveling in the interests of the Spalding Manufacturing Company, of Grinnell, Iowa. He was formerly a stockholder and for a time the superintendent of the old Eldorado Fair Grounds which are located
very near his home, the land being now occupied by the Benlock Camp, in which Holiness Meetings are held.
In April, 1907, Mr. Scott was elected mayor of Eldorado, and under his administration many improvements of value were inaugurated. The first concrete or brick crossings were laid, as were the first brick sewer pipes; the first grades for sidewalks were made; and the first iron bridges in the town were built; he also worked hard to secure drainage, which the town, lying on a fiat, badly needed, and became chairman of a committee to find suitable outlet for the drainage of a large district. Through his efforts many improvements that are still continued were established, great improvements in the sanitary and material condition of the town being made, while the foundation for a fine village was firmly fixed.
Mr. Scott is a Republican in politics, although in local affairs votes for the best men and measures, regardless of party prejudice. At the age of eighteen years Mr. Scott united with the Baptist church, but for the past thirty years he has been an active member of the Methodist Episcopal church, towards the support of which he is a liberal contributor, and has served as district steward. Fraternally he is a member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Order of Masons; of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; of the Daughters of Rebekah; of the Improved Order of Red Men; and also belongs to Burnett Post, Grand Army of the Republic.
Mr. Scott has been twice married. He married first, at the age of twenty-one years, Rachel R. P. Dodd, who was left an orphan at the early age of ten years. She died twenty-five years later, leaving two children, namely: Nancy E., wife of J. W. Black, a miner; and Thomas J. Scott, who is engaged in the grocery business in Eldorado. Mr. Scott married for his second wife, Mrs. Sarah R. (Westbrook) Latham, widow of Dr. John F. Latham and daughter of Rev. Samuel Westbrook, a pioneer Methodist minister of Southern Illinois, who died at the Scott home, in Eldorado, February 14, 1908, aged ninety-seven years.